The Witch Hunting Gene

I have a hypothesis – I do not have arguments for this hypothesis. I firmly held this idea for quite a few years now. My idea is that humanity has a persecution instinct. Worse, I believe that humanity is compelled to self-formulate groups to persecute, and will do what it can to kill them in an organized manner.

This set of genes evolved probably in the era when humanity found itself without ntaural predators and other species competition. That’s the same era, which probably started before the current holocene, where humanity started living in larger aggregate communities. At some point in the past humanity started persecuting other humans, and they benefitted from it. Benefits entailed tribal unification – either by fear (everyone was now terrified to have their own ideas) or by literally weeding out freethinkers- but there were other benefits as well: you take the money and property of the people you exterminate. This happened on a big scale in Bosnia with Muslims, WW2 Germany with Jews and in Rwanda with the Hutu’s. Or with natives everywhere in the colonial age.


This gene may be profitable for some groups (under some rare circumstances) but it is detrimental for the human race – witch hunts and pogroms based on ‘gut feelings’ tend to hit people who merely look different. The majorities find reason to regard minorities as unwanted, based on things like eating habit, incompatible taboos and skin pigmentation. In some few cases the alleged benefit of chasing away (or killing) the unwanted might make sense of a monstrous, ecological level (argueing about humans as I would argue about competing animal strains in savage nature) but mostly it’s just an instinct running amok.

We can’t do zip about it; if this pet hypothesis has any validity we are stuck with it until we can change the genetic predipositions of humanity on a large scale. We might be able to patch for this tendency, but I don’t see that work very well. So for now we are stuck with every human having to keep a watchful eye for his fellow human beings. Once they gang up on you, ‘because you carry an odd hat’ be prepared for anything because next thing might be they start rounding you up and take you to the killing fields. I may have the gene. Anyone reading here may have the gene. You cant take anticipatory action against this gene, because that might be precisely what the gene wants. So we have to stay vigilant against it.

Maybe one day, when humanity is a lot smarter, we can all come together to cure this evil tendency.